Pakistan Security Brief
Pakistan Security Brief – October 5, 2010
Eight militants with German citizenship killed in North Waziristan; Two Pakistani Soldiers killed in roadside bomb attack; Torkham checkpoint closed for sixth straight day; New video may show deadly NATO airstrike; Times Square Bomber gets life in prison; NATO vehicles targeted by militants; President Obama content with covert operations in the region.
As many as eight militants with German citizenship were killed in a U.S. drone strike on Monday in North Waziristan. The attack occurred in the Mir Ali area of the agency and targeted a compound where the militants were thought to be meeting with a local leader with ties to senior Taliban Commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur. Monday’s drone strike comes just days after western intelligence officials reported that they had credible evidence that terror attacks against targets in Western Europe were being coordinated from Pakistan by militants with EU citizenship. Officials report that it is unclear whether the militants killed in yesterday’s strike were linked to the terror plot in Europe, but that in the coming days they hope to establish if those killed were in fact the masterminds. News of the European terror plot broke last week after a German of Afghan origin, Ahmad Sidiqi, was captured and interrogated by Western intelligence officials. 
Two Pakistani soldiers were killed and five others wounded in a roadside blast in North Waziristan on Tuesday. Security forces told reporters that a remotely denoted explosive was triggered as a military vehicle carrying the soldiers passed by. The army vehicle was traveling from Miramshah to the town of Datta Khel when the attack occurred. No group has claimed responsibility and security forces are investigating the incident.
NATO Supply Chain
The Torkham checkpoint and Khyber Pass border crossing remained closed to NATO resupply vehicles for the sixth straight day. As many as 200 fully loaded NATO supply vehicles bound for Afghanistan are reportedly parked in line waiting for the border crossing to reopen. Senior US and Pakistani government officials are said to be working together closely to resolve the dispute. When asked about the closure, White House Press Secretary Gibbs told reporters, “We believe we are close to producing some results.”As of the Tuesday night, however, the Torkham checkpoint remains sealed.
A bomb was detonated next to a NATO fuel truck on Tuesday as it was parked at the Torkham checkpoint near Khyber Agency. The truck was damaged in the attack but officials were able to contain the damage to just one vehicle. The attack came as the vehicle was parked alongside as many as 200 other vehicles also waiting to cross into Afghanistan. Tuesday’s attack was the fifth attack on NATO resupply vehicles since the Torkham checkpoint was closed last week. This most recent bombing highlights the growing concern that the hundreds of parked NATO vehicles are easy targets of opportunity for militants. While no group has claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s bomb blast, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan have previously admitted to carrying out similar attacks. 
A new video has surfaced purportedly showing last Thursday’s NATO airstrike that killed three Pakistani security forces at a post in Kurram agency. In the video NATO aircraft are seen hovering over the post before opening fire and reducing it to rubble. If authenticated, the video may call into question official statements made by senior ISAF members who had previously claimed that NATO aircraft only opened fire after being fired on first from the ground. To the see the video, please click here. 
Times Square Verdict:
The failed Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad was sentenced to life in prison today in a Manhattan courtroom. Shahzad’s car bomb failed to detonate last may and he was apprehended attempting to flee the country. Shahzad, who has been defiant throughout the trial process, repeatedly interrupted U.S. District Judge Miriam Cedarbaum during today’s sentencing. According to reports, Shahzad warned the courtroom, “brace yourself, the war with Muslims has just begun.” Following today’s verdict, Faisal Shahzad will spend the rest of his life in a federal prison without the possibility of parole. 
President Obama told lawmakers on Monday that no strategy adjustments were needed to covert operations underway in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In a report to Congress, President Obama wrote, “We are continuing to implement the policy as described in December and do not believe further adjustments are required at this time.” While this position has been previously voiced by many senior members of the President’s national security team, it is the first time the President has formally endorsed current covert operations unfolding in the region. The statement released by the President on Monday was an unclassified portion of a congressionally mandated report on the Executive’s conduct of the covert action overseas.
As many as seven people were killed late Monday in the latest wave of killings to sweep Karachi. Two men were reportedly gunned down near the Indus Plaza graveyard by unknown assailants. Elsewhere, a gun battle between rival factions left an unknown number of gunmen dead in Sarjani town, and two more unidentified men were killed by masked gunmen in Sohrab Goth. Karachi’s major parties, the Awami National Party (ANP) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), blamed the latest unrest on each other and the provincial government. Yesterday’s bloodshed comes almost a week after the National Assembly called on the provincial government to more aggressively pursue groups responsible for target killings. 
After initial opposition, the Sindh government signaled on Tuesday that it was willing to pass a one-time flood tax to offset the cost of this summer’s devastating floods. Although the Sindh government has agreed in principal to the tax, they have stated that they will not move forward with the measure until they are able to court the support of a broader coalition of provincial officials. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), based in Karachi, continues to oppose the tax and remain the only major holdout. President Zardari is said to be meeting with MQM officials to reach a compromise.
The Sindh government voted on Monday to withhold as much as 50 percent of funding previously allocated for development projects across the province. Government officials said the cuts were necessarily to offset the cost of the flood crisis and repair infrastructure that was damaged by flood waters. The government did not immediately release which development projects would be affected by the cut backs.